Kuno: Namibian male Shaurya (formerly Elton) is casualty no. 10 of Project Cheetah

Female cheetah Tblisi was the ninth cheetah to pass away, in August 2023. Things seemed to be looking up with three new cubs born this winter, but alas...

The cheetahs were released into Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in 2022 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (photo: National Herald archives)
The cheetahs were released into Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in 2022 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (photo: National Herald archives)
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NH Digital

Namibian cheetah Shaurya passed away today, 16 January, wildlife officials said.

It has been mere months since the animals were re-released into Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park after being pulled back into enclosure due to disease and weather-related stress, .

According to the officials, the exact cause of the death is yet to be known and will be ascertained after the post-mortem.

This is the tenth cheetah death in the last year. Female cheetah Tblisi was the ninth cheetah to pass away, in August 2023.

“Around 11 a.m. on 16 January, incoordination and staggering gait was observed by the tracking team, following which the animal was tranquilised and weakness was found,” the additional principal chief conservator of forest and director of the 'Lion Project' reportedly told The Indian Express.

This comes just as Project Cheetah seemed to have turned the corner with the birth of three healthy cubs earlier this winter.

Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Aseem Shrivastava also informed The Indian Express that the cheetah was part of a male coalition and died inside its enclosure.

Shaurya and his brother Gaurav were originally called Elton and Freddie by music-loving conservationists in Namibia. Unfortunately, being given a more 'Indian' name did not help Elton acclimatise any better.

Though in this case, the terroir may not have been the issue—or at least, not the only one. India Today reported that both the Namibian brothers had got into a fight with Agni and Vayu, who had been natives of South Africa, around 6 p.m. on Monday, 15 January, per forest officials.

The experts have cited various factors behind the sudden deaths of the 10 animals so far. Some of have spoken of diseases, others of intra-species fights and injuries sustained during hunting in unfamiliar conditions. Experts have also spoken of attacks by other animals the cheetahs are not accustomed to dealing with, and also of heatstroke. The weight of their radio collars, the humidity of the Indian monsoons have also been brought up.

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